Starlight and time

The Hubble Deep Field, product of Creation Day 4.
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The starlight and time riddle is another stumbling block to Biblical faith. But if you apply Einstein’s famous equations consistently, it need not be.

The starlight and time riddle simply stated

The starlight and time riddle runs like this: If the earth is no older than 6,015 years, how can we see objects at the edge of the universe, 13.7 billion light-years away?

A light-year is the distance that light can travel in a year. It is the most convenient measure of the distance of far-off objects from human eyes. (It is also a sharp reminder that we are isolated in our solar system. We cannot send a conquering navy to the stars, nor fear such a navy troubling our peace. The Alpha Centauri system, nearest to our sun, is 4.5 light-years away.)

Astronomers generally agree that our universe has objects as far away from us as 13.7 billion light-years. That is not the same as saying that we are at the center of the universe. Conventional astronomers don’t care to admit that our universe has a center. But that’s another subject.

The point here is that the farthest objects, in any direction, are 13.7 billion light-years away from earth. So while the earth might be younger than that, the universe cannot be younger than 13.7 billion years.

Unsafe assumptions

The starlight and time argument rests on three assumptions:

  1. Clocks on earth have always run in lock-step with clocks everywhere else in space.
  2. The speed of light is a constant. (Its symbol, c, means “constant.”)
  3. The light that strikes our eyes gives a reliable history of the object that gave it off or reflected it.

If any one of those assumptions is wrong, the starlight and time argument fails.

Mature creation

Notice that God made Adam, and later Eve, in a mature state. In fact, God created all plants and animals as mature specimens, not as spores, seeds, or eggs. Why should He not create planets, stars, and galaxies as fully formed objects?

Some have said that God went further: He formed the far-off objects, and formed the light rays between those objects and the earth. If He did, then the starlight and time problem disappears. But some of these objects have suffered explosions or other great changes. Why should God put on a show for our benefit, of events that never took place? That’s out of Character for God. God does not lie.

Is light slowing down?

Others try to solve the starlight and time riddle by saying that light once moved faster than it moves today. If that’s true, then the fine-structure constant is not constant, either. And it might not be—that’s another hot question.

But we can solve the problem a lot more simply: the clocks on earth have run more slowly on earth than at the edge of the universe. Impossible? No. Here’s why.


The Hubble Deep Field contains far-off objects used to highlight the starlight and time problem.

The Hubble Deep Field, a picture of some of the farthest objects in the universe. Objects like these are the posters for the starlight and time riddle. Photo: Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute.

Albert Einstein developed the first modern cosmology, or a system to describe the sky. He reckoned that the speed of light is constant. It depends on other fundamental constants but does not depend on whether you’re standing next to the lamp, walking around it, or moving toward or away from it. That alone told Einstein that all the laws of relative motion that Sir Isaac Newton had developed were far too simple. His most radical idea is that events in any frame of reference that is moving relative to you will be slowed down, depending on how fast the frame is moving.

Imagine a train moving faster than even a Chinese bullet train can move on a good day. Aboard the train, a passenger switches on a light to read. You are in the station, watching him do this as the train rushes by. How long does the light from his lamp take to move from the lamp to the book he wants to read? He’ll get one answer—and you will get another. From where you stand, the light has a longer way to go, but travels at the same speed. So it takes longer.

This time dilation is the one thing that conventional cosmologists forget when they pose the starlight and time riddle. Einstein worked out his system of Special Relativity to cover simple motion. He then added gravity, and saw no reason to treat it any differently from stomping on the gas. Result: events on earth take longer than events in outer space, especially in objects beyond the reach of earth’s gravity. And events in our solar system take longer than events outside it. This is Einstein’s General Relativity.

Cosmological relativity

In 1994, Moshe Carmeli asked himself: Is it reasonable to treat all the universe the same as the space around the earth, or even the space within one solar system? His answer: No. Look in any direction, and what do you see? You see far-off galaxies and larger objects seeming to rush away from earth. Any astronomer knows this. As they look at any star, they see that its spectrum, or “signature” of light, is the same as one would expect from burning the elements that it is made up. Except for one thing: the spectrum is shifted toward the red.

This is a classic Doppler effect. If you’ve ever had to stop for a passing train, you know what this means. As the train blows its whistle, that whistle seems to drop in pitch as the train passes. (On the other hand, if you’re on the train, the grade crossing bell seems to drop in pitch as you pass it.) Light works the same way. This redshift looks for all the world like billions of objects rushing away from one another—and the farther away they are, the faster they seem to be rushing.

Carmeli noticed that he could predict how fast a far-off object seemed to be rushing away from earth from its distance. He also noticed that this redshift could predict time dilation in the same way that regular speeds can predict it on a local scale. His conclusion: time on earth runs more slowly than does time at the edge of the universe. And at that distance, the redshift is so great that the time dilation has to be just as great. This was the beginning of Cosmological Relativity.

John Hartnett (Starlight, Time and the New Physics) worked out a complete system that accounted also for the masses of these objects. He calculated that the time dilation would be at such an order of magnitude that a period of one day on earth could easily fit with a period of 13.7 billion years at the edge of the universe.


So where is the argument about starlight and time? Do clocks on earth really move at lock-step with clocks everywhere else in the universe? No, they do not. In fact, they run slower. Relative to us, clocks run faster the farther out you go from our sun. That’s why we see those far-off objects: the light has had plenty of time to reach us, while our clocks have barely ticked by. And on that ground, the starlight and time argument fails.

Of course, this explanation is still not complete. It’s not enough to show that starlight and time do not contradict one another. One must show how even Adam could have seen the stars after clocks on earth had ticked on earth after six days, the time that God formed him “from the dust of the earth.”

Different creation-oriented cosmologists explain this differently. D. Russell Humphreys said that at a critical moment when the universe first formed, all clocks on earth and for many light-years around stopped completely. Hartnett says simply that our clocks ran very slow, and ran their slowest during Day Four of creation. Your editor will explain that in another article.

The earth is indeed 6,015 years ago, by the clocks that run on earth. Those are the only clocks that matter, because they are the clocks we use. When God gave Adam the Annals of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2.4a), He did not bother telling Adam about clocks at the edge of the universe, because Adam would never travel there. Neither will we, or at least, not this side of eternity.

Why should you believe any of this? Because in solving the starlight and time problem, the Hartnett solution solves two others: the “dark matter” and “dark energy” problems. That’s a powerful statement that nobody—yet—wants to admit.

Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

114 Responses to Starlight and time

  1. GP says:

    Interesting theory. However, how do you correlate your use of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the fact that you’re a senior administrator on a site that actively states the ToR is a “liberal conspiracy”?

    To be honest, you can’t have it both ways – either the Theory is false, in which case your argument collapses, or it’s true, in which case the Conservapedia articles need to be revised.

    Which is it?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I could ask you the same question: which is it? Because the starlight and time riddle, as your side states it, flatly ignores relativity. How can you, with any justice, champion it here and ignore it in the key context?

      For the record, I don’t hold with that “conspiracy” view. But the difference between our two sides is that we’re willing to look at the counterexamples, or claims for such. Whereas your side is not. Especially when it comes to evolution.

      • Geno says:

        Terry claims:
        ” … the difference between our two sides is that we’re willing to look at the counterexamples, or claims for such. Whereas your side is not. Especially when it comes to evolution.”

        Geno points out:
        Really, Terry ! ! ! !

        Here’s a statement from one of the leading organizations on your side:
        6.By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m afraid that I can’t see any way of making that mathematics work within the bounds of general relativity. You’ll notice that the key idea there is that the Earth is a “preferred reference frame”, which pretty firmly contradicts one of the fundamental principles of relativity – specifically that there is no preferred reference frame. That basically invalidates any work that is performed within the framework of relativity.

    I’m afraid that there seem to be some serious mathematical flaws in the argument as put forward by Hartnett.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You ignore the evidence—from observation—that Hartnett presents to show that the earth, or at least our galaxy, is a preferred reference frame. You also are conflating that concept with the mis-named “Copernican Principle” that says that the universe has no center. Hartnett presents photographs showing that the objects surrounding our galaxy lie in distinct concentric shells, with our galaxy at the center. That is a direct and fatal counterexample to the “Copernican Principle.”

      • Chris says:

        Then it invalidates any use of general relativity, which much of the rest of his theory relies upon.

        General relativity is derived mathematically using the assumption that there is no preferred reference frame (this can be confirmed in any of a number of good references, with my favourite being the text by Landau and Lifshitz). If you decide that there IS a preferred reference frame, then general relativity is a tool that you can no longer use, as the derivation is invalidated.

        As much of his work relies on the framework of general relativity, this does seem to be a case of having his cake and eating it too, so to speak.

  3. Tony Lloyd says:

    If any one of those assumptions is wrong, the starlight and time argument fails.

    This is simply false.

    Any assumptions made in dating the universe to 13.7 billion years old are just that: assumptions for the universe being 13.7 billion years old. They are not assumptions for the starlight and time arguments.

    Say one of the assumptions is out and the universe is not 13.7 billion years old. Say it’s 12 billion, 11, 10, 9, 8 billion. You still have the starlight problem. Say your Cosmological Relativity hypothesis shows the 13.7 billion years to be off, way off, of by a factor of 1,000. No, make that 10,000. No, make that 100,000!

    The YEC age of the earth is still totally inconsistent.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You’re not looking at the same assumptions. I say that if the clocks did not run at the same speed, you cannot assume that the universe is legitimately that old by a clock on earth—or a clock at the spot where the earth would eventually be.

      And as a matter of fact, CR shows that the 13.7 billion years (by earth clocks) is off by ten trillion. Or was on Day Six of Creation. What you’re seeing now is the result of a rapid expansion—the Big Stretch—that took place on Day Four.

      By that result, even Adam could have seen those objects, if his eyes could have resolved them.

      • Tony Lloyd says:

        “If I say that if the clocks did not run at the same speed, you cannot assume that the universe is legitimately that old….”

        The starlight objection is not assuming that the universe is “that old”. That was the point of my post. There is no specific date of the age of the universe needed in order to make the starlight objection. All that needs to be established is that the universe is “not younger than”.

        To show this we do not have to make the same assumptions as to show that the universe is 13.7 billion years old.

        Put it another way you cannot establish your position by merely by showing that “any one of those assumptions is wrong”: you need to establish that your position is correct. There is no argument for that, other than a need to fit in with Genesis.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          That’s just the point: you cannot establish your “not younger than” age. The only thing that makes the universe more than a day old, are the dates of recorded history. And recorded history begins 6015 years ago.

          • Tony lloyd says:

            Establishing that the universe is “not younger than” does not depend on the assumptions that may be needed to get a result of 13.7 billion years.

            Lets call the assumptions needed to establish 13.7 billion years “A” and call “13.7 billion years” by the name of “B”.

            That A is necessary for B is expressed by (A v ¬B) (A or not-B)

            We’ll use “C” for “not younger than” and the assumptions needed to establish that “D”.

            That D is necessary for C is expressed by (D v ¬C)

            Let’s call the starlight problem “E”. Your statement “If any one of those [“A”] assumptions is wrong, the starlight and time argument fails” is equivalent to (A v ¬E)

            But look here: if C then E and there is a counterexample to your statement. ¬A, D & E is perfectly consistent. It is not the case that (A v ¬E).

          • Graham says:

            Why does it matter how old the earth is? I don’t see how that is important when it comes to either: loving the lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, or loving your neighbour as yourself. Nobody is going to “win” this debate. The more you bring it up, the less credibility you have with people who hold moderate/liberal views.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            I am not interested in “hav[ing]…credibility with people who hold moderate/liberal views.” I’m interested in changing them. And I am interested in changing them for the same reason that I would be “interested in changing” someone’s “view” that two plus two was equal to five instead of four.

            Now I have read the opinions of those (like Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe) who say that even if the earth were as old as conventionally claimed, that still wouldn’t be long enough for life to proceed from one ancestor to the present dizzying variety absent some kind of Divine guidance.

            But that does not change this one central fact: We have a Direct Testimony, and a Platinum-Standard Historical Record. That Record gives Dates that you can trace back from the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II, all the way back to an event that we call “Creation.” We know exactly how many years ago that took place.

            Naturally that was the first place that anyone sought to contradict that. The finding of the Rosetta Stone led to a misinterpretation of, and misconstruction on, Egyptian chronology. People assumed that Egypt was older than the Flood.

            So along came Charles Lyell to say, “There! You see! The Bible is bunk! In fact, processes that you see today, have always operated at that very same rate! The earth is billions and billions of years old!”

            Actually, Lyell assumed that the earth was infinitely old. Men like Becquerel and Rutherford would lay the basis for setting a limit of 4.5 billion years. Gracious of them, but not enough.

            The age of the earth ought to matter to anyone who wants to “get it right.” Furthermore, if the earth is older than God said it was, then God is proved false. And false in one thing, false in all.

            Any more questions?

  4. eric says:

    Then how do you explain Dinosaurs and the geological fact that the earth’s crust cooled 4 billion years ago?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I do not accept “four billion years ago” for the crust cooling. I do not accept the earth forming out of a cloud of dust. And dinosaurs? The big remains that you see are creatures that lived for hundreds of years until they all drowned in the worst catastrophe—make that cataclysm—that the earth has ever known. Of course, I’m talking about the Global Flood.

      And by the way: the dinosaurs didn’t all die. Noah must have taken some with them. They show up in too many works of ancient and “native” art. And some of them are alive today.

      • Kyle says:

        Dinosaurs? Alive Today? Er….where are they? What possible evidence can you present to back up the statement “some of them are alive today”?

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          We’ve got a pod of them in Lake Champlain, Vermont, and the Canadians have them in Lake Okanagan, BC. There was a pod of them in Loch Ness, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re all dead by now, because that lake is so disgustingly polluted.

          We had dragons throughout Western Europe, until the medieval knights hunted them to extinction. The dragons in China lasted a little longer; Marco Polo saw one of them.

          Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa have brought back repeated stories of very large creatures living in rivers in the less accessible parts of the jungle.

          • Kyle says:

            Well, those are all assertions, much like I can assert that my name is Janine Ogalthorpe, that I’ve lived on Mars for the past 10 years and that I am King of Sweden. However, I wouldn’t expect you to accept any of those without some kind of evidence to present.

            Where is your evidence that backs up the claims that you have made?

          • Kyle says:

            Any response to my query, Terry?

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            All in good time. It would take another article to answer that question. And one will be forthcoming in a few days.

          • GP says:

            Marco Polo also wrote about “dog-headed” men and the Blemias – men with faces embedded in their chests. It’s probably polite to say he embellished his stories somewhat. Ditto with dragons.

          • Nigel says:

            Lake Champlain IS in Canada

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            Really? Then how come, when I crossed it from New York into Vermont by ferry, I didn’t have to clear Canadian customs?

  5. Bob says:

    Who are you and why should I assume you are smart enough to contradict a great number of scientists? Can you share a link to your academic credentials?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      That’s the wrong question. The real question is, why should you assume that this “great number of scientists” are

      1. as smart as you think they are, and
      2. telling the truth?

      Those people you call scientists play a great game with “academic credentials” and “peer review.” The game is called “Keep the gate and hew to the party line.” A similar rogues’ gallery played a similar game with climate science. And in the meantime they published papers that they knew were false when they put them out.

      I just used Mike’s Nature trick of grafting the proxy data onto the real-time temperature series to hide the decline.

      Academic credentials are just another “authority” to try to prove things by citing. And that is a logical fallacy. You have committed two: argumentum ab auctoritate and argumentum a multitudine.

      • Bob says:

        First off – I am not the smartest person in the room. I never pretend to be. I only apply common sense as I see it to situations. Additionally, I am not a scientist. I do not understand the science – I see mathematic equations involving university level calculus and whatever else and I run away in abject horror.

        “The real question is, why should you assume that this “great number of scientists” are

        as smart as you think they are, and
        telling the truth?”

        If scientists are lying then we are all doomed. I put a lot of trust in science to do the correct things – and the marvels that humans have built over the past 100 years are testaments to the power of science. From combustion engines and airplanes and , to computers and internet, to nuclear power facilities and wind turbines and solar energy… All are – as I’ve been told – built based off scientific principles.

        I place my faith in science and scientists – because they have proven themselves. I trust they are telling the truth because I have no reason to believe otherwise. And without a fundamental understanding of the principles that they are presenting — as provided by the academic community themselves — I am unable to refute their evidence. I can’t discredit the scientific theory of relativity because I don’t understand all of the science behind it. I’m not smart enough. But if they can put a man on the moon, if they can facilitate video communication to someone on the other side of the world instantaneously – I have no reason to distrust their theories.

        Your theories however all require something named ‘god’ to be accurate, which requires a different group of people to be telling the truth. So who is lying? Trust no one.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          There are two kinds of science: operational (how things work) and origins (why things are). And I put it to you that origins science is full of some of the worst frauds in the history of science. The only thing comparable in operational science to the campaigns of fraud and illegitimate gatekeeping that we see in origins science, is in climate science. And that has a far more serious practical consequence.

          Putting a man on the moon says nothing about how the man or the moon came to be.

          The evolutionists have not proved themselves. Neither have the Big Bangers and those who abuse Copernicus’ name by attaching it to their “no center of the universe” precept.

          Why are the evolutionist afraid, time after time after time, to get into any debate with creation thinkers? Because they lose. Every. Single. Time.

          And you have lost already. You are appealing to authority and to the size of the crowd. The one having an envelope of the fanciest pigskin, containing a piece of paper with a hundred times its weight in ribbons attached, can still be wrong.

          And thousands of hoity-toity credential-droppers can be wrong, too. They can also be low-down humbugs and frauds, as many of them are.

          • bob says:

            What is there to debate?

            Evolution is the answer to HOW, not the answer to WHY.

            Creationists believe in the “I dream of Jeanie” approach to the origins of the universe. Poof – planet. Poof – Plants. Poof – People. Additionally, if you follow the Creationists theory, men are put on a higher level of importance than females.

            How do you debate with something out of a child’s fairy tale?

            Science is always willing to be proven wrong – that’s why we don’t call it the ‘fact of evolution’. There is not 100% proof. As our understanding of the universe matures, scientists adjust the theories. That’s why we don’t teach from 40 year old science books anymore (well, maybe in middle america they do).


        • Josh says:


          You say you “put your faith in science, because they’ve proven themselves.” But that is not always true. Do a little research on scientific theories that have been proven wrong. A lot of the time it’s very trivial things, but there are a few instances where the science was proved wrong or at the very least incomplete 40 years later, but they don’t ever come out and acknowledge the damage they did in the mean time. They didn’t even do it on purpose. They were just wrong, and didn’t realize it at the time. They are quick to publicly tout their “facts” but rarely does it get a lot of press when they beat their own facts down.

          I don’t know how old you are, but think about it this way. I’m 31, and in my lifetime – science – has called eggs both the extreme of totally healthy to dear god don’t ever eat this. This has gone back and forth to various points in between at least half a dozen times in my life. I believe the scientists doing those studies used the best info available at the time, but you can’t just blindly assume they’re utterly correct.

          • Jpop says:

            Josh, you obviously have no understanding of how science works. Did you skip High School?

            As for Terry, there’s a reason no one debates with Creationists, and it sure as hell isn’t because Creationists always win.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            On the contrary, I’d say that Josh just about nailed it. The history of science is replete with example after example of scientists getting it wrong, often laughably so in light of current knowledge. I cite the phlogiston theory (that fire required its own combustible element, that was always the same), and how Antoine Lavoisier put paid to that one.

            Now that is how science ought to work. How it actually does work, especially when talking about origins, is a lot different. Nobody wants to admit that the basic theory of the universe—that things happen strictly by chance, and that the universe has been going on for an infinite time without the need for a First Cause—is, at best, incomplete. And so they take one observation and say, “There! That proves that the Bible cannot be right!” And in the process they ignore other observations that puts their snap judgment in doubt.

            I am here to make sure that such people do not get away with it anymore.

      • Helena Constantine says:

        If Scintists are not very smart, and lie all the time, here are two questions:

        1. Into what profession do all the smart, honest people that we are meant to thinks are scientists really go?

        2. How have these stupid, untruthful scientists managed to create all of the technology that we have, such as computers and modern medicine, which depend on the very same scientific truths that you claim are lies?

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Operations science is not in dispute.

          Origins science is.

          And stupidity isn’t the problem. Flat-out dishonesty is. Intellectual dishonesty—and rebellion against God. “No-Body tells me what to do!”

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Just so you know—since you’re too lazy to look up my About page—I graduated from Yale College in 1980 with a degree in engineering, and from Baylor College of Medicine in 1985 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. That I did not publish those credentials earlier is because I do not stand on them. I do not appeal to authority, no matter how august, nor to any crowd, no matter how large, as a judge of whether I am correct or incorrect in my statements. Nor do I recognize the power of any authority, no matter how august, nor any crowd, no matter how large, to try my statements for correctness or incorrectness.

      • The Golden Pheasant says:

        Based solely on your utterly ludicrous claims that dinosaurs lived for (only) hundreds of years, that Noah took two of every kind on his ark, and that there are “pods” of dinosaurs still alive today, I would hope Yale is in the midst of revoking any credential it bestowed upon you.

        I mean, at first I thought you were just another intelligent and articulate (but fundamentally, deeply wrong) creationist pseudo-scientist. But that dinosaur comment! That could be out of an old Tina Fey Weekend Update monologue! You’re asking us to be skeptical of modern science while bandying about with absurdities. That’s a recipe for instant credibility loss.

        If nothing else, you’ve provided an hilarious start to my weekend (in the godless metropolis of San Francisco). I’ll keep an eye out for any plesiosaurs in the bay.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Now you know why I don’t bother to present academic credentials. Because people like you respect them only so long as those who hold them, hew to your party line. The moment we deviate from it…!

          • The Golden Pheasant says:

            The moment we deviate from it, we have dragons in Rennaisance Europe and knights slaying them. I know all too well.

  6. Michael Malmrose says:

    This post poses an interesting idea, do you have the numbers to back it up? If an event takes 100 seconds in absolutely no gravitational field, how long would an observer on the surface of the Earth calculate that event took because of time dilation?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Well, there is no such thing as no gravitational field. But try this: Substitute “plain old acceleration” for “acceleration due to gravity.” The Einstein GTR says that both kinds of acceleration work exactly the same way. In other words: ask yourself how long this same event would take place aboard a spacecraft under a constant 1-g acceleration. Then you will know how long an event takes place on earth, with respect to an event in orbit around the sun.

  7. Michael Malmrose says:

    You didn’t answer the question. I’m familiar with the concept of sitting in a 1g gravitational field being identical to to continuous acceleration at the same rate. I’m also aware that gravitational fields never actually go to zero. However, one can imagine being in a place far from any massive objects so that the effect of gravity is minimized. In such a reference frame, time ticks away at some rate. My question was, how is the rate at which time passes different on the surface of the Earth due to the fact that there is a 1g gravitational field?

    Your argument, if I read it correctly, is that there is indeed a definable reference frame in which 13+ billion years have passed since the beginning of the universe. However, because of time dilation caused by the fact that the Earth has mass, in the reference frame of the Earth only 10000 years +- a few thousand have passed. An observer in the minimal gravity frame would only disagree with an observer on Earth by 6 orders of magnitude about how much time has passed. What is the strength of the gravitational field required to accomplish this?

  8. thom says:

    your argument begins with ‘Notice that God made Adam, and later Eve, in a mature state… created all plants and animals as mature specimens… hy should He not create planets, stars, and galaxies as fully formed objects?’ am i the first to comment on this? the bible, interpreted as fact, is the basis for your discrediting the old universe theory. why not begin with using science to prove the bible is accurate, that would provide much more support for this argument, in fact all the support you need. not only for young earth, but creatures in loch ness and dragons…

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      “Using science” (specifically, prophecy fulfillment) will come in a later article. Briefly:

      1. The Bible has the best quality-control system ever invented for a work of literature.
      2. The Bible makes several predictions of future events, predictions that have come to pass. The probability of forty prophecies about Jesus Christ happening by chance is 10-157.
      3. I’d say that that makes the Bible accurate enough.

      • thom says:

        accuracy and fact are two very different things, one of which has shades of gray and plenty of room for error (even though it may look correct to the human’s eye / mind) and the other doesn’t. nostradamus made plenty of projections, some of which appear to have ‘come true’, but what has happened is reality has closely touched threads of comments written down on paper, giving the appearence that he was prophetic. i can kick a ball at a goal and hit the post, no one would deny that i was accurate, but no one would say that it was a goal.

  9. Scott says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahh. “We had dragons throughout Western Europe, until the medieval knights hunted them to extinction”. Hahahahahahahahaha, and you expect people to take you seriously.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Laugh if you will. But I have seen such creatures in comparative anatomy textbooks from the Renaissance era. Some of them were a little small, but other than that, they looked remarkably like the fire-breathers that the knights used to describe.

      • Scott says:

        And a good laugh it was. But let me get this straight here, you actually believe that Noah’s ark is fact and not just myth?

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          As surely as I believe that the chair I’m sitting in is fact and not just myth.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not a great many years ago, the one and only surviving document referencing a particular ancient war was regarded as a creation of complete and utter fiction, the origins of many of its heroes notwithstanding — men who were immune to blades and women who were the spawn of Roman gods having raped mortal women. We now know today that despite the flights of fancy taken by the author in describing the supernatural nature of its protagonists and events throughout the war, a large part of what he wrote about was, in fact, historically accurate.

        This was written less than 1000 years ago. You expect something written even further back to be fully accurate, to be taken at its word?


        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          And archaeologists didn’t even know that such a civilization as Assyria ever existed, until someone found it, and found synchronies with the Bible text. And are you engaged in critical thinking?

  10. Scott says:

    Hmmmm, and you dont see any problems at all with the logistics of such a feat? Nothing in that story jumps out to you at all that makes you think “but where would he get a kangaroo to put on that boat”. I am not really too familiar with the story but did he get insects on the ark as well?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Your argument—or at least, the argument I think you’re using—assumes that the continents were split apart back then, the way they are now. And yet your side still accepts “plate tectonics” that calls for those continents to move.

      The kangaroo could still hop from wherever the eventual land of Australia was attached.

      You have no idea, of course, just how violent an event the Global Flood was, or how it changed the lay of the land. Well, in future I will cover that, too.

      • mark says:

        terry now im not going to waste my time trying to explain why your the source of my laughter today with your religious mambo jumbo.

        i have one simple question for you : Did noah bring termites on his arc?

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Sure, he did. The pitch that covered the ark inside and out protected the ark from infestation. Recall also that all he needed were one each male and female to perpetuate the kind.

          This doesn’t have too much to do with starlight and time. But don’t think that you’ve found a falsifier for the log of Noah’s Ark. You haven’t.

  11. Scott says:

    Ok, what about the insects though, were they on the Ark? And the only people on the Ark were Noah & his family right?

  12. Scott says:

    OK, so i take it that insects were not on the ark. Most likely because this ark never existed. It is just a story, like genesis. The Earth is not 6 thousand years old either, trying to convince naive people otherwise is just irresponsible. I know that this is your career and all but dont you ever feel ashamed at what you try to pass off as science. Lying for Jesus is still lying.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Oh, no. You may take it that I’m a trifle busy right now, too busy to let you or any other commenter make instant-message-style demands on my time. It just so happens that I’m preparing another post, in another category, as we speak.

      I have no doubt that Noah did carry insect specimens aboard. They would have been ridiculously easy to care for.

      • Scott says:

        He had all 750,000 species of insects on his ark then? Easy to care for you say. This is just a story, a story that makes no sense if you take the time to think about it.

      • Geno says:

        Terry claims:
        I have no doubt that Noah did carry insect specimens aboard. They would have been ridiculously easy to care for.

        Geno points out:
        Noah would also have needed to carry a lot of parisites and diseases too. The insects and everything else would be ridiculously difficult to care for while suffering from cholera, the plague, smallpox, diarrhea, tuberculosis the flu, a cold, and a host of other diseases.

  13. Markedc says:

    “The probability of forty prophecies about Jesus Christ happening by chance is 10^157”

    The probability of forty prophecies about Jesus Christ happening that were written in hindsight is exactly 100%.

    Or is that ‘Schlafly Statistics’?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Some hindsight! Isaiah wrote those prophecies seven centuries in advance! Duh-h-h-h!

      • Scott says:

        Could you please give some examples of the prophecies that have been fulfilled.

  14. Markedc says:

    Not the hindsight on the group of people that wrote the book of Isaiah, but rather the hindsight of the group of people that wrote the many books of Jeebus.

    Fudging the facts so to speak… I mean if respected scientist and scholars do it today as you have pointed it out, could it not of happened years ago by the scholars of that day?

    Humans do make errors, what is great about science is it allows corrections to those errors as new observations come about.

    How about this, I will concede that a clock at the end of the universe (do universes have edges? I want to give Neil deGrasse Tyson a call about that) could POSSIBLY tick at a ratio of (1 day / 13 billion years) slower than a clock here on Earth, if you concede it is possible that the prophecies (say along the lines of [13 billion * 365] / 1 probability), could POSSIBLY be lies or embellished after the fact.

    “In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” -Carl Sagan

  15. X says:

    The speed of light is a constant, it doesn’t matter how we measure it, Just like how you aren’t moving faster if you are going at the same speed but measuring it in KmH rather than MPH. Or if you measure it in seconds or anything else. Your theories pull out every excuse to prove your thesis, which is flawed and relies on the existing of a god who literally did everything to conform to your theory. It’s the ultimate “God did it” so you can’t prove me wrong lalalalala.”

  16. Markedc says: & 8:00, don’t worry even Dawkins had a hard time understanding why you can’t reach the edge of the universe -.^

    Neil deGrasse Tyson FTW!

    • Markedc says:

      Ohh more stuff on the ‘unsafe assumptions’:

      1) Clocks on earth have always run in lock-step with clocks everywhere else in space.

      -They don’t and it is not assumed

      2) The speed of light is a constant. (Its symbol, c, means “constant.”)

      -As best as we can tell with experiments, it has not changed yet (in a vacuum)

      3) The light that strikes our eyes gives a reliable history of the object that gave it off or reflected it.

      -If you do not assume this, I can see how you think dragons and dinosaurs are still around, and am surprised you do not also see unicorns or the flying spaghetti monster. We are only able to see because of the light that strikes our eyes, to not trust it is a good representation is to not believe what you see.

  17. DinsdaleP says:

    What if we approached this from a fundamentally different way, Terry?

    It’s a basic enough premise. You remove the tenets of the Bible from the scientific investigation by simply stating that the conclusions of science do not have to conform to Biblical scripture to be valid.

    Cosmology can conclude that the current best estimate for the age of the universe is “X”, and why. Geology can determine the best theories to determine the age of the Earth, the changes across the planet over time, plate movement, fossil and fossil-fuel formation, etc. Chemistry and physics can examine phenomenon like radioactive decay, relativity and quantum behavior. Biology can examine ideas regarding the origins of life as well as the way life forms evolve over time (which are two different disciplines after all).

    So you do this with people trained in the skills of these scientific fields, who have no knowledge of the Bible, and to be fair, they’re given no assumptions about the age of the Earth or anything that would bias them against the conclusions of the Bible.

    Then let them observe, measure, theorize, validate and refine, and see what conclusion they’d arrive at after some time.

    If we’re going to be honest – really honest – do you really expect them to come to the conclusions that Biblical fundamentalists and YEC proponents do? I don’t, and it has nothing to do with being anti-Christian or anti-religion.

    Your ideas work for you, Terry, because you start off with the Bible being a constraint that all other disciplines have to conform to. That’s not intellectually honest, and it’s not a position based on being objectively correct – it’s based on mixing faith into fact until the conclusions match your preconceptions.

    If you can make a case that conclusion-blind scientists would arrive at Biblically-correct conclusions given enough time, I’m open to reading.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      What if we approached history in a fundamentally different way, Mr. Dinsdale?

      It’s a basic-enough premise: you remove the written dates from the scientific investigation by simply stating that the dates are unreliable, absent corroboration from forensic-quality evidence.

      Just try to propose that to any Department of History, and see how long they could hold in their laughter!

      And that is no more outlandish than what you have just proposed.

      Do I expect truly impartial observers to conclude that the Bible offers the simplest explanation that fits all the facts? Yes, I expect that. It wouldn’t take very long. Stand it up against the record of guesswork, fudging, and outright fraud that I have seen from the uniformitarian/abiogenetic/commonly-descending axis, and I’d be surprised if some people did not go to prison for grant embezzlement!

      • Markedc says:

        Well sure the history nerds would laugh and then simply point you down the hall to the department of Archaeology. How can you put so much faith in one area of Academia (history it seems?) and completely crap on all others? What about when written records or other historical artifacts conflict with the bible? Do you truly give an impartial comparison to historical evidence that contradicts the bible? Is simplicity the measure by which you accept facts? Are you so sure an impartial observer would agree with you on that assumption?

        I mean if you give a sophisticated (tools), intelligent, ignorant (on creation), unbiased observer the whole universe as evidence, sans any books or witnesses that may temp them to choose one option over another (cough bible cough), you really think they would rewrite the bible? Not literally word by word of course, but then again who takes the bible literally?

        Sorry that cracked me up…

  18. Geno says:

    Terry wants to use Humphreys’ “White Hole” cosmology and gravitational time dilation to explain the problems of light from objects 13.7 billion ly from Earth reaching us in only 6000 years. The problem here is we don’t need to go anywhere near that far from Earth to refute his 6,000 year argument.

    Unfortunately, even Humphryes has been forced to admit his model doesn’t work for nearby objects. In fact, he co-authored an article with Larry Vardiman at ICR which states: “Humphreys was never fully satisfied with its details because a) the solution did not provide enough time dilation for nearby stars and galaxies…”

    For example, the minimum event horizon that will work would be the radius of the Earth. An event horizon that size would require the mass of about 2200 suns…. and they would need to be INSIDE the radius of the Earth. That would obviously create a few problems, so we would need to consider a larger event horizon. An event horizon of only about 400,000 miles would require the mass of over 200,000 suns. The mass of the entire Milky Way would create an event horzon of only 0.25 light years…. less than 1/16 the distance to the nearest star (other than the Sun, of course).

    It is obvious there simply isn’t enough mass close enough to Earth to create the time dilation necessary for light from the far side of the Milky Way to reach us in only 6,000 years… let alone such objects as Sn1987a (167,000+ ly) or Andromeda (2,400,000 ly).

    The truth of the situation is the Humphreys’ model is much more about Biblical apologetics than it is about Einstein’s theories of relativity.

  19. DinsdaleP says:

    Trying to change the premise of my point from Science to History isn’t an answer, Terry – it’s dancing around an uncomfortable truth instead of addressing it straightforwardly.

    If you meant dating in the scientific context, though, by all means – start with no date-labeling or frames of reference that would imply an old earth “as a given”. We’d be starting with a level playing field called “all of existence around us”, and the conclusions these researchers would arrive at would be based on nothing but their own work in examining that reality.

    So if we had that level playing field, what evidence around us would tell them that the Earth and the universe around us is less than 7,000 years old instead of billions? What evidence ties all of the geologic and fossil records to the Biblical Flood if you didn’t have a book saying that it happened to guide you? Why wouldn’t atomic decay rates be a good measure of the age of objects, at least for the purposes of estimation?

    In short, what sets of evidence exists across all of these different disciplines that independently correlates a precise YEC picture of the reality around us. I don’t see any, and you haven’t presented any.

    That doesn’t make faith meaningless, but it does drive home the point that not everything in the Bible should be taken as literal fact versus allegorical inspiration.

    The scientific method developed independently of the doctrine of any religion, and remains independent because it’s based on principles anyone can apply on their own to determine the truth for themselves. As I said, I’m open to your making a convincing rebuttal.

  20. Janet Gray says:

    You obviously have not heard of the Oklo natural reactor, and how it was surmised that the fine structure constant hasn’t changed in at least 2 billion years. I suggest you look it up.

  21. Janet Gray says:

    You’ve got a basic understanding of general relativity down — i.e., that there’s no difference between gravity and an accelerated reference frame. However, it takes *enormous* energy to accelerate matter enough to achieve a significant dilation of time. Our reference frame is not accelerated particularly, nor is it for most of the normal matter in the universe.

    Remember that the Lorentzian which describes time dilation involves a quotient of velocity squared over the speed of light squared. Therefore, to have any real effect, v has to be really, really large. Yes, in a black hole, yes, for other rare circumstances like cosmic rays. Time is uniform universally.

    What you’re doing is unconservative and scientifically illiterate, or just literate enough to fool some. Faith doesn’t rest on a fundamentalist interpretation of the bible. Language is a human invention, and nowhere in the bible does it say “take this literally or you’re damned”. In fact, I seem to recall Jesus railing against the scribes and the lawyers, who took the torah *too seriously*; all they were about was the letter of the law, what had been written down. God doesn’t need language. We do.

    Good science is infused with humility and doubt, ever seeking greater understanding and verification. Good biblical interpretation is, too. Look up the different between exegesis and eisegesis.

  22. Donald R Laster Jr says:

    One important aspect of Einstein theory of General Relativity has to do with the location of the observer. Even with the “big-bang” theory Relativity deals with the location of the observer, time and age appropriately. I remember reading a document, not sure where it is now, where a mathematical proof was presented to prove that the universe was 7 days and some hours old. As long as you were measuring time at the LOCATION OF THE OBSERVER. From earth the universe appears to be billions of years old. But what is the age of the universe when one is located at the actual center of the universe? When one deals with creation one must always remember where the creation is being done from.

    In the vein of this article the observer is God on his throne since God is the observer at the center of creation. When one understands relativity and how things “distort” we find we are in day 7 based on Relativity which has been shown to be accurate. Or to put it another way – where God is sitting it is day 7.

    Think of the classic description of twins. One takes a trip to Jupiter, accelerating toward the speed of light etc, and the other stays on Earth. When the one gets back from Jupiter he is younger than than the one who stayed on Earth due to Relativity. Less “time” has passed for the twin who went to Jupiter than the twin who stayed on Earth. The twin who went to Jupiter took a 5 year trip. The twin on earth – 60 years or so passed.

    Unless one is willing to look past the blinders one loses out on different possibilities. Scientist have only omitted a creator from their consideration in the last 200 years or so in their seeking of “how”. When science focuses on understanding the “how” science is self-correcting. When science chooses to be engage in dogma – science is no longer science but politics. That is what “man-made climate change” is – politics not science.

    Even the writers of Science-Fiction understand the concept of Relativity and have incorporated it into their stories.

  23. Alan Seeling says:

    I presume the argument really is, “How old is the earth/universe.” It seems that the arguments follow from there. One side says their number is derived from geneological records, the other from natural records. However, since the Apostle Paul used the physical universe as his defacto proof of the Judeo (at the time) God to the Romans, how has it come that his proof is no longer true?

    I am a geologist and anthropologist who went through all that training and all these years of work and Bible study and never saw any contradiction between what we were finding out by following God’s dictum (“…have dominion over it”), as well as Paul’s statement that man is without excuse, and what I read in the scriptures. I believe Paul, all one has to do is view the wonders of the physical world to know something/someone (because of the existence of personality) is behind it all.

    The issue, “How old is the earth”, is really the only one at odds. However, my question to believers of a young earth is, why would one believe that the calculations of a prehistoric (almost) bishop (Usher) have anything to do with the physical universe? Biblical Epistomology demands the scriptures be read as they were written, just as any literature would be. Some things are poems, some are selective rememberings, some are hard facts. Some things, like the geneologies are simply iterations of important people or indications that one thing follows another, that Jesus was indeed born of….. If one takes the geneologies as chronologic fact (year to year to year) instead of lineages, Methuselah, loved of God, died in the Flood, unloved, apparently. Silliness and a waste of time. Not only that, but if one doesn’t read in context, God has to have chicken wings in order to gather His children, more silliness.

    For me, the crowning jewel of Genesis is the ORDER of the formation of the earth/things. We have only recently realized that the geologic order of Genesis approximates more closely what we have found than it could coincidentally (read other culture’s stories of the beginning). By following an attribute of God, rationality and logic (not always found in other cultures, nor in ours, it seems), we have simply done what we were designed to do, get more proof of who He is. Do we have to try to figure out when He was deceiving us and when He wasn’t?

    In the 1800’s the issue of the age of the earth did not exist, as it was irrelevant. It was not an issue until Neo Darwinists (neo, meaning those that were new or who came AFTER him) started using the argument of evolution as a starting point for not needing a starting point, God. Suddenly devote, and defenseless, people grasped at the fact that the theory needed a long time to be workable. So they simply, and ignorantly, attacked the existence of that span of time. Just because something seems helpful doesn’t mean it is true.

    That old defense is not the best, in fact, as with most answers found while scrabbling about in the dark, it is silly. The best is the actual scientifically reproducible and consistent data that seems to point that what we see and are able to use to calculate stuff, all began at one unimaginable point of energy. Not only that, but once put into motion, every path of every gluon, meson and quark has been known (calculated, before, not after) by that “Beginner.”

    I personally think that trying to say God had to deceive us into believing something other than what he told us to understand, is pretty insulting to God. After all, if you had a choice, would you prefer to believe in the machinations of a magician (now you see it now you don’t, presto-chango…) or of a being large enough to blow your mind by complexity so vast that no matter how far you look or how much you learn, you see you are looking into things that seem to only grow more amazingly amazing?

    I know who I’d rather play with.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Alan: You are obviously a reasonable man. The answer to your question is: Check your premises. You will find that several of them, especially in geology, are mistaken. I challenge you—as I must—to re-examine every assumption that your teachers and all the published authors have made as regards the ages of rocks. You will find that most rock dating is relative. The foundation is radiometric dating—and as I have said in another article, that system is fatally flawed. It assumes, without warrant, that radioactive decay never changed its rate, that the daughter nuclide started out at zero, and that nothing added to or subtracted from the parent-daughter ratio except radioactive decay. The last assumption might be safe. The first two are not.

  24. Janet Gray says:

    You did not answer my earlier comments — not on Oklo, not on relativity, not on exegesis. I can guess that your literalism goes beyond mere youngearthism to literally taking Paul at his word about women too. Your loss, buddy.

    Here’s more for you to ponder. I realize, because of your worldview, that you won’t allow yourself to budge; once rigid, always rigid. Fundamentalists tend to turn into atheists, and vice versa. So this is for the benefit of your readers.

    The rate of nucleosynthesis by fusion inside of stars such as our own is well known, and is definitely tied to the fine structure constant. The proportion of helium and other elements to hydrogen in stars (detectable by spectral analysis) is a very reliable indication of age. And it takes billions, not thousands, of years to create the proportions we see. A change in the fine structure constant would mean, for example, too little carbon for life to be sustained with. The carbon we have in our bodies was cooked inside of other stars that supernova’d billions of years ago.

    There is definitely wonderment in how precisely tuned many of the constants of nature are, how serendipitous it is for life. To some physicists, God is in “the rules.” But that doesn’t require a literal interpretation, or that the rules changed abruptly to suit that interpretation. Discovering the rules is the glory of creation. You would gainsay discovery and yoke it to an idolatrous worldview. Yes, idolatry — bible idolatry. We’ve seen this already. The Galilean episode happened 400 years ago. The vatican has a world-class observatory now.

    I said to you earlier that God doesn’t need language. A Being of pure thought doesn’t require words, not inter alia. We do; but even then, more can be communicated by symbols, numbers, formulae, music, beauty, and so on. What is love? Confined to a book, is it? Why shouldn’t someone who is illiterate be able to experience God? Why shouldn’t the Holy Spirit be able to operate beyond the pages? So the bible is a pointer to the truth. To say that it *is* the truth is ridiculous. The map is not the territory.

    It was only until it was written down (for the NT, that was 30-60 years after Jesus) that there began to be arguments about orthodoxy. An oral tradition, by definition, strays, like the proverbial game of telephone. And it was written in Greek — not Aramaic, the language of Christ and the disciples. By the time John was written, the story of when Christ (on passover or on the preparation day) was crucified had changed to fit a paschal narrative. And there were arguments for several hundred years about which books were canonical. So your premise that words were carefully dictated and preserved from the mouth of God to the written page is false on its face.

    To project a limiting, fundamentalist worldview like this is the worst sort of hubris, not conservative at all.

  25. Here4Years says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Thanks for the good laugh, Terry. You should really become a writer of comedic-fantasy literature.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Laughter is fine, but it doesn’t make the conventional view valid.

  26. Here4Years says:

    And until you provide conclusive scientific evidence for your claims, evidence that is independent of the religious mythology you follow, your views are invalid.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      And until you provide conclusive scientific evidence for your claims, evidence independent of the anti-religious mythology that you follow, your views are invalid.

      • John Genovese says:

        Science books are not anti-religious mythology….they are pro-reality non-mythology.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          They’re not supposed to be anti-religious mythology. And operational science books don’t get into that. But origins science is clearly split between those who say that God put us here, and those who say that we just happened to fall out this way. The second school indulges repeatedly in circular definitions, argument from authority, argument from The Crowd—and argument directed at the man.

  27. John says:

    Howdy all. I was reading this blog and was wondering what drugs Terry was on, and where I can get some.

  28. Aaron Petrick says:

    Terry: Being anti-religious isn’t a mythology. lolyale.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Actually, it is. The ultimate “there-is-no-God” explanation of any originating event turns out to be a just-so story.

  29. Aaron Petrick says:

    First it’s fire-breathing dragons…lol… in Europe, now we’re changing the definition of “mythology” to fit, yet another, failed attempt at actual argument.

    I will say this though, you ARE an amusingly entertaining read. I just hope nobody actually takes you seriously.

  30. Aaron Petrick says:


  31. Aaron Petrick says:

    Oh, and Terry, since we’re talking about myths…here is a mathematical debunking of the the whole lolflood story.

    Not that I expect you to accept it…even if you do read it. Somehow, though the magic of God, things like space for animals, the rotting of the keels, and various other hilariously unaddressed points about this absurd fairy tale…which is an insult to fairy tales.

    God is great… he just sucks at math…. or so it would seem. the Ark

  32. GP says:

    “We have a Direct Testimony…”

    No you don’t. The earliest parts of the Bible were written by people centuries after they happened, after been passed down by the oral tradition. And it’s a fundamental fact that oral histories are notoriously unreliable.

    You – or Ussher for that matter – have no idea just how much, or who – and to what age they lived – was left out.

    What you have is a historical record that may, or may not, be allegory, but a “direct testimony” it most certainly isn’t. Unless you have a book of Adam lying around that nobody else has seen.

  33. […] did this again recently – having a bash at the old “Starlight problem.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the […]

  34. Night Jaguar says:

    “Where is your evidence that backs up the claims that you have made?”

    Terry A. Hurlbut says:
    “All in good time. It would take another article to answer that question. And one will be forthcoming in a few days.”

    Is the article written yet? I would love to see the evidence for dinosaurs being on Noah’s ark and medieval knights hunting dragons to extinction.

    • Night Jaguar says:

      And that dinosaurs still exists (and it really doesn’t seem like Mr. Hurlbut is referring to birds).

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      All in good time. I have breaking news on other fronts to cover.

  35. b416 says:

    There is no such thing as “Operations science” and “Origins science”. There is just science. Every field in science uses the same scientific method. Data from one field (evolutionary biology for example) are used in another (medicine) every they. And guess what? It’s consistent!

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Not true. Those who practice origins science (or rather, make a hash of it) totally ignore the scientific method. You don’t run experiments to see what happened in the past. To do origins science the way you do operations science, you would need a time machine.

      One cardinal rule of the scientific method is: Don’t multiply guesses without good reason. But evos do it all the time. They assume a sequence of “chance” events, the odds against any one of which are nothing short of astronomical. And when you need all those events, you multiply their probabilities, and that gives an even lower result. Apparently no one told them that when the odds against anything happening by chance are longer than nineteen to one, it didn’t happen by chance. This is called “rejecting the null hypothesis.” But evos never do that. Why not?

      • b416 says:

        Very true. And you are avoiding the answer. Do you ever use antibiotics?

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          Are you threatening me? I recall someone who actually threatened to withhold antibiotics from any believer in God, especially if that person disbelieved in the totally-by-chance model of evolution.

          Now to answer the deeper question that I think you’re asking: Certain molds seem to come with the ability to produce antibiotics to keep bacteria at bay. On the other hand, bacteria seem to be superbly adaptable. But adaptation to environment cannot drive one family of organisms to give rise to another.

          It’s one thing to say that a species can change to another species, within the same genus or family. Members of the same family but different species (or even genera) have been known to cross-breed and even to produce fertile offspring.

          But the single-ancestor model of evolution—the single tree of life—requires a change of kingdoms. No one has ever shown that even in a laboratory setting, much less seen it happening in the wild.

          Now I could say that this is off topic. After all, we are talking about starlight and time, not common descent (or abiogenesis, either). I could say that, but I won’t. I know perfectly well, because different commenters have said it on this very comment space, that “starlight and time” is a favorite meme to attack the Bible. I wrote this article to show that the “starlight and time” argument is inherently weak. Now you can accept that—or not—as you wish.

          What we’ve got here, is failure to communicate! Some men you just can’t reach!

          —Actor Strother Martin, as the Road Gang Captain, in Cool Hand Luke

  36. b416 says:

    The evidence for the single tree of life is all around you. You just have to look. For every branch of the tree, you have species alive today, that you can examine, touch, photograph and present like evidence, unlike your dragons. For example, there are several different species of wild canids in South America. They fall somewhere between the fox and the wolf but are neither.

    By now, you must know that you made it to FSTDT, you are now a worldwide joke, congrats
    your Fundie Index is one of the highest I’ve seen

  37. Anonymous says:

    If we’re accept that God can break the laws of physics at will to create the illusion that things are not as they appear to be, then we must accept that anything we can observe is not, in fact, indicative of reality. Point in fact, we are incapable of determining what reality is at all, as our senses may be constantly manipulated by God. This includes mental faculties, as you have kindly pointed out by ridiculing science as being too rigid to accept an external variable which can never be properly defined (i.e., God’s influence).

    Wake up, Neo. The Matrix has you.

    More seriously, once you accept “everything you think of as a fact of existence is irrelevant to the omnipotence of God,” then it becomes impossible to determine what is truly a fact and what is not.

    The Earth is NOT, in fact, 6000 years old. It is eight days old.

    It was created last Thursday and everything around us–including the memories of things having occurred prior to June 9th 2011 (the date of all creation) has been subtly and irrevocably manipulated by God. Last Thursday, each and every one of us was created from the ether in whatever state of being we occupy today, eight days later. If you believe otherwise, you are allowing an inflexible mind to disguise the truth from your enlightened mind, you poor fools!

    The beautiful thing about this fact is that because God is omnipotent and willing to bend the laws of physics (down to such a minute degree of detail that He can modify the arrangement of neurons in your brain, causing you to have false memories of June 8th and the hypothetical days before this, which did not actually happen as time itself did not exist before creation), it is impossible to disprove. Not “prove,” mind you, because it is already true. The mere fact that we are debating this is proof enough that the universe was created June 9th 2011, or else we would be incapable of thinking about it. Remember, your memories of the time before this are false, so what’s left must be the truth – that the universe was created last Thursday.

    I realize this is an absolutely ridiculous argument. So is yours. Once you consent to the logic that it is impossible to prove or disprove anything because God doesn’t follow all the rules, then the point becomes moot since we are left with exactly the same position we had before that: faith versus science.

    I’m still sore enough about that part where you silly people translated elohim, a perfectly applicable plural word, into deus — insisting that despite this breaking all the rules of the language at the time that it was, in fact, a singular noun. I’m through with making exceptions to the rules for God. Elohim is plural, deus is singular, and God does not break the laws of physics purely to create doubt in His own existence.

  38. T. Jacob says:

    Terry, I have a few close family members who are members of a religion who take the “Old Earth” creation model to be true, but they do not accept evolution. Although in my opinion it leaves far more questions than it answers, it at least proposes a fairly straightforward solution to the so-called “starlight problem.”

    I believe that they take the “easy way out” in that they pick and choose which scriptures to take literally and which to take figuratively. However, I see no reason why certain scriptures, especially in Genesis, couldn’t be taken figuratively. Now I’m no theologian, but I think it would be somewhat strange that certain units of time, such as years and days, would be in place before the actual timekeeping pieces themselves were created, such as the revolution and rotation of the Earth, respectively.

    I have many reasons why I am inclined to believe that not everything in the Genesis creation story should be taken literally, and the above is just one of them. I will mention one more, which takes this verse into account, from Genesis 1:6:

    “6 And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.'”

    I apologize for not being able to cite scripture in the proper manner. I will look up the proper format and make sure to cite correctly in future posts. This verse was taken from the New Revised Standard Version, by the way.

    I feel that this verse is important because it seems to imply that both the oceans and the sky were considered to be one ocean and were then ‘separated.’ I don’t think very many people today doubt that the sky is not an ocean, but if we take this verse literally, the sky is indeed an ocean, made of water.

    Now, if we take the rest of the creation story literally, we might conclude that all of creation is indeed about 6000 years old. But if we can’t take the scripture above literally, then why would we take the entire creation timeline literally?

    I believe it is an interesting question to think about. However, I believe you have more knowledge of the Bible than I and I would like to hear your opinion about it, as well as your opinion about the Old Earth creationism in general.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      You are correct: some people do take the easy way out. They do indeed pick and choose which verses to take literally and which not to. They fail to realize that science, apart from anyone’s wish to get God out of their way, is more consistent with Scripture than with, say, Marx.

      The NRSV translation of the Hebrew /raqa/ as “dome” is as good as any. It’s a boundary between the above and the below. /Raqa/ actually means a thinly stretched sheet. Only recently has anyone tried to make sense of that verse; the solution lies in cosmology. And according to some cosmologies that I have seen, water was the original prime ingredient in creation. And that “dome” appears later on, in the Day Four account, and in several verses in Psalms that talk about God “stretching out” the heavens, as one stretches the canvas to set up a tent. “The Big Stretch”, by the way, explains the Pioneer Anomaly—in which the last signals from Pioneer 10 and 11 came back too quickly to account for by their distances from the Sun.

      In general, the Old Earth system does take the easy way out. Because if you can’t take the Genesis (1-11) story literally, what are you to make of Jesus Christ Himself saying, in effect, “I was There”?

      As to “the original timekeeping pieces”: Day One established the difference between light and darkness—day and night.

      • T. Jacob says:

        I am very intrigued by these new cosmological proposals, and I’d like to learn more about them, especially the one you mentioned which describes water as a prime ‘ingredient’ in creation.

        Most mainstream cosmologists, I believe, would immediately reject any such theory that does not assume the universe came into existence ex nihilo. They would also have a very hard time accepting that water could be considered a ‘prime ingredient,’ mainly because their current models assume that hydrogen was the first element, and water would not be possible to produce until fusion reactions had created heavier elements such as oxygen.

        But considering the many failures that modern cosmologists have had in explaining current observations, I think a major paradigm shift is in order. Ideas like ‘dark matter,’ ‘dark energy,’ and ‘cosmic inflation’ seemed to have been created in desperate attempts to prolong the collapse of atheistic theories of the universe, with no motivation to search for the actual truth.

        Pure Mathematics seems to be the last major area of intellectual inquiry that has been untouched by the atheistic biases of contemporary academia. Unfortunately, it seems that most who have extensive training in mathematics and choose to do research in the fields of cosmology or theoretical physics are swiftly carried away into this atheistic dogma.

        I for one have no formal training in mathematics or the sciences, and quite frankly I simply don’t have the brain for it. But I do find great interest in the implications that these fields have on philosophy and religion. I also understand how important it is that any mathematical theory makes testable predictions. I would be very interested to see how the cosmological theories that are compatible with the Bible stand up to observed data.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

          I recommend Starlight, Time and the New Physics by John Hartnett. He lays out cosmological relativity, or the carrying forward of relativity onto a cosmic scale. He was able to explain super-fast galactic (and supra-galactic) rotation, the apparent acceleration of the universe, and the apparent inflation of space without resort to such concepts as dark matter and dark energy (or, if you like, hyper-gravity and anti-gravity).

          • DinsdaleP says:

            Terry, the Pioneer anomaly was recently explained through a more comprehensive heat loss model, using a more accurate representation of how radiated heat reflected off of the craft’s surfaces from the sources. No space-stretching required.

  39. Night Jaguar says:

    Mr. Hurlbut,

    How is that article showing the evidence that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark, are still alive today and that medieval knights hunted dragons to extinction going?

    You said back on the 8th that it would be “forthcoming in a few days”.

  40. Carmen D. Fry says:

    It’s sickening to me to see how some individuals are so easily willing to mislead in the name of “science.” Perhaps some truly believe the claims they make to those gullible enough to listen to them, but occasionally the claims of these “Christian” fundamentalists are so outrageous that it seems hardly possible that they could take themselves seriously.

    Terry, I gather that you are sincere about the beliefs you espouse, but I see a tendency in you to be very aggressive towards differing belief systems in an effort to protect your own.

    The kind of individuals I mentioned in the first paragraph include those such as John Hartnett. He knowingly uses very old and incomplete data to support his claims. These “quantized redshifts” are often used by ‘galactocentrists’ to make the claim that our galaxy is in the center of the universe. The idea came about when extensive mapping of galactic superclusters became possible. Some astronomers noted that there seemed to be redshifts that happened in discreet jumps, and were not continuous. With the poor amount of data taken in the early 90s, some suggested that there seemed to be concentric rings of galaxies surrounding our own galaxy. These ring structures of course disappeared about a decade later when much better data was taken. These structures form what are now called filaments, and form no rings or circles at all. We are able to see once again that our galaxy occupies just an ordinary place in the universe.

    John Hartnett dishonestly misuses data to support his outlandish claims. Unfortunately, the average reader of his books is either already a creationist and inclined to believe anything that supports their beliefs, or not well trained in the sciences and mathematics and therefore will be more easily convinced simply because they see his credentials.

    But a true scientist does not conform data to support a preconceived notion or their own hypothesis. They do not go searching for only the evidence that can support their theory. A true scientist looks at ALL of the available data, and then proposes a theory to explain what is observed. John Hartnett, as well as many other ‘creation scentists,’ as they like to call themselves, intentionally ignore basic observations because it does not conform to their religious beliefs.

    John Hartnett may try to create a reputation for himself by going against the mainstream, but he will ultimately fail, as will the entire ‘creation science’ movement, because it simply isn’t science, and never will be.

    Terry, believing that the universe is 6000 years old will not improve your morality or ethical principles. Telling others to believe such nonsense does not improve their lives. It does not bring them closer to God. To believe that God interferes and changes his own creation, manipulates and breaks his own laws of physics, contradicts the very belief that God Himself is omniscient and omnipotent.

    An omnipotent, omniscient God only needs to write the laws and set the initial conditions. After that, he can leave his creation all alone, and it will run like clockwork, eventually producing stars, planets, microbial life, multicellular life, land animals, mammals, apes, humans, human society, human religion. All through completely natural, completely explicable processes. If you believe that God changes His mind and needs to interfere, you undermine God’s nature as the ultimate power of all existence.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Well, I get sick too. I am sick and tired of people who deliberately distort the very meaning of science, to make it refer to naturalistic explanations only.

      And if this issue really did not make any difference to morality or ethics, why do you and others make such a strenuous effort, and expend such a volume of keystrokes, to shoot it down? Something’s missing here.

      I’ll tell you what’s missing. What’s missing is your acknowledgment that you and others deliberately seek to remove all moral and ethical anchors that come from any source but the all-powerful State.

      You are the one who undermines God. And the reason is that your explanation simply will not hold. The earth is six thousand years old because that many years, and no more, have passed since God formed a man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Any inference to the contrary makes God a Liar. (Capitalized on account of Who He is, the Author of Truth, not on account of What you think He is.)

      • The definition of science: A system of acquiring knowledge. If your kind of science is Bible-based only, then that limits you to knowledge of the Bible only. You do not have access to knowledge of the natural, physical world. That realm of knowledge is exclusively accessible to the natural sciences, using the scientific method. You and others like John Hartnett try and answer naturalistic phenomenon using your Bible-based system, which is outside of your magisteria.

        We do not distort the meaning of natural science. We keep it limited to explaining the natural, physical world, which is all it is designed to explain. Your Bible-based science is limited to the explanation of theology and spirituality, which does not overlap with the natural sciences. You extend your knowledge-acquiring system far beyond its scope.

        The reason I take time to argue against this sort of behavior is because it is extremely damaging to people who do not know any better. There is a growing anti-science, anti-intellectual pro-religious fundamentalism movement in this country that I believe will cause a tremendous amount of damage to the continued growth of human knowledge and development of society if not stopped. The natural sciences have brought us as far as the moon, and why should we stop there?

        I don’t know why you think I am some sort of pro-big government fanatic. You seem to group all of your enemies into one enormous, powerful group that has only one agenda, and that agenda appears to be world-domination. I am not interested in power, I am interested only in the welfare of humanity through the continued development of human knowledge through science. Not that you would believe me, of course.

        Your last statement sums up your mindset quite well: The Bible is the perfect, infallible, inerrant source of truth and anything that differs is against it and inspired by corruption and possibly evil. Why do you believe that? If it is not perfect, it could mean that all of your beliefs would be in jeopardy. Everything you believe could be false. And that idea to you is the most terrifying thing imaginable.

  41. Night Jaguar says:

    Terry A. Hurlbut says:

    June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    All in good time. It would take another article to answer that question. And one will be forthcoming in a few days.
    _ _ _

    I’m beginning to suspect Mr. Hurlbut doesn’t have any real evidence.

  42. Angry Cymraeg says:

    I’m still waiting for the ground-breaking news of the pod of dinosaurs in Lake Champlain. Wait, do I hear the sound of flippers in the water? No, my mistake. It’s just the tumbleweed blowing through…

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      If you would follow one of the links in the article, you would see it.

      • Kyle says:

        A few grainy pictures and an eye-witness or two does not constitute ‘proof’ of living dinosaurs. Once again I ask a very simple question. If all of this is true, why aren’t there thousands of biologists descending upon Lake Champlain to study this previously unknown find? Why hasn’t David Attenborough produced a documentary on these living dinosaurs? Why haven’t I read this as the top news story on every paper and every news program in the world?

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